I managed to get started on my comic script last night, as expected, and went to bed having put down four pages for this graphic novel project. Not bad at all for about an hour and a half. The 100 page goal should be a breeze to hit, and I should hit my own goal of finishing 6 issues, however many pages that ends up being (I would guess 150-175), relatively easily as well. I’d completely forgotten how different comic script writing is from regular prose writing. The only time I’d tried my hand at it in the past was last year, and that was also during Script Frenzy.
As someone who’s very easily distracted by shiny things like incoming emails, Facebook messages, things popping into my RSS feed, or a sad, empty cup of tea, I have a hard enough time writing short stories and novel prose. Unless I’m very, very absorbed in a tense scene, every paragraph break is an opportunity to go do something else that I have to consciously fight. Most of the time I’m good about it, forcing my attention to remain on the page until I’m done a scene, and often I’ll just close my browser or kill my wifi, because if it’s not there in easy reach it’s much less of a temptation. The only thing that really breaks my concentration is when there’s something I need to research, because I often assume that it will be just a quick search for the needed information and then I can get back to my writing. Sometimes it actually does turn out that way, but more often than not it turns into a one hour Wikipedia crawl.
The distractions are worse when putting down a graphic novel script because it has something prose doesn’t, that being specific formatting. You can’t just write a paragraph and move on to the next, you have to keep track of the page numbers (the comic page you’re working on). You have to separate everything by panel. You describe the panel but you also have to note who is speaking the dialogue, whether the dialogue is coming from off-panel, then put down the actual dialogue. And then some panels have captions and those are noted differently. If, when I’m writing prose, I have to fight the urge to look away after every paragraph, writing a script presents me with all kinds of additional requirements to detail things which break my train of thought and give me an opportunity to look away, to check for new mail, to see who’s posted what on Facebook, to go see if the latest Schlock Mercenary comic has posted. Actually, I don’t have to wonder. That comic updates like clockwork, every day at 10pm my time, so when that time hits the urge to look away from what I’m writing is worse because I KNOW there’s something in my RSS feed, if I’d just go look… it would only take a minute…
So I think the key to success, beyond the usual BIC HOK, is to make damned sure that I put away all the shiny things like open browsers and make sure they stay gone until I’ve written when I needed to write. It’s good practice for any writing by someone like me, someone who has the attention span of a caffeinated hamster, but it’s going to be even more crucial to finishing this script.